A visit to the ancient site of Magdala in Northern Israel is not complete without seeing the visually striking Duc in Altum (Latin for “put out into the deep” based on Luke 5:4) worship center. Facing the Sea of Galilee, the church is a monument to the ministry of Christ and His followers and is widely considered to be an architectural spectacle.
Now part of an expansive commercial center and modern hotel, Duc in Altum remains the centerpiece of the Magdala campus. Upon entry, visitors will enter the Women’s Atrium, commemorating women of faith through the ages. Seven pillars in the atrium are engraved with the names of women mentioned in the Gospels. The eighth pillar is noticeably blank, symbolizing all women of faith.
Including the Women’s Atrium, visitors will encounter a total of six chapels. Four chapels are uniquely devoted to key events in the life of Jesus and His ministry, displayed in intricate, colored mosaics. Arguably the most recognized is the main Boat Chapel, designed to resemble an inverted boat. The altar is comprised of a raised green marble apse on which stands the likeness of a first century boat. The altar is highlighted by the spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee in the background. An infinity pool behind the altar creates the illusion of the boat floating gently on the water.
Beneath the Boat Chapel, Encounter Chapel is built into an original first century marketplace stone floor, perhaps once part of Magdala’s thriving fish market. Another potential scenario is this is the location where Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48), as displayed in the massive fresco depicting the iconic scene of the woman reaching out to touch the hem of His garment.
Open all week, the church is easily accessible from Magdala’s hotel and the archaeological park.
Combine your visit to Magdala with a full day tour of the Galilee on your next trip to Israel!
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